Hidden Oaks Nature Center

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Visitor Center: December through February, open 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

7701 Royce Street
Annandale, Virginia

Michael McDonnell,

Hidden Oaks' 50th Anniversary

Hidden Oaks logoOpened October 18, 1969

Hidden Oaks was the Fairfax County Park Authority's first nature center. It turned 50 in October.

Below are stories and events connected to the anniversary celebration on October 19, 2019.

Tree sculpture


Tree Sculpture

Chain saw artist Andrew Mallon created an art sculpture from the stump of a tulip poplar that was struck by lightning. He also carved seats and a bench out of portions of the tree's trunk. The area will be used for interpretative nature programs. The sculpture can be seen from both inside and outside the nature center. Its formal unveiling took place during the center's 50th anniversary celebration.




Imagine the Next 50 Years

Imagine the Next 50 Years

Lightning Struck Twice: The Story Behind the Carving Tree

Two electric bolts during a storm turned a 100-foot tulip poplar just outside the picture window at Hidden Oaks Nature center into an imminent danger to the building. The tree had been the focal point of the woodland view from the center. It was a feeding station for flying squirrels and many species of birds. Its loss was keenly felt by staff, park visitors and the nature center’s wildlife neighbors. 
But the lightning assault did not damage the tree’s base. That was the knock of opportunity. Staff arranged for a ten-foot stump to remain for chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon, who will create a sculpture of critters that enjoyed the tree’s gifts over its 128-year life. The urban art will be the centerpiece of a learning station on natural woodland shelters, and the carving means the tree can be enjoyed for the next 20 years. Because it is near the nature center, the artwork will be easily accessible for all visitors.

Information about a fundraising campaign for the sculpture is at www.fohonc.com, the website of The Friends of Hidden Oaks Nature Center.

Tour the Old Oak Trail

Habitats and Havens Story Map thumbnail

Caroline Seitz: From Volunteer to Naturalist

Caroline Seitz is the founder and owner of Kids Nature Shows LLC and Reptiles Alive LLC. She has been a part of Hidden Oaks Nature Center since she was quite young. She has told us she will be forever grateful to Hidden Oaks Nature Center, especially to naturalist Nancy Cooley and the other staff who encouraged and supported her passion for wildlife, especially reptiles. She made her very first public live animal show at age 8 or 9 at an evening family program at Hidden Oaks and stayed on as a volunteer naturalist for many years. Through her volunteer experience she was able to build her dream career as a naturalist and wildlife educator. She will host a presentation about reptiles during the Hidden Oaks anniversary celebration.

The photos are Caroline through the years at Hidden Oaks, starting with one of her first shows at age 8 or 9. The second is from the 1980s. In the third, she is treating the display copperhead at Hidden Oaks while serving as a wildlife rehabber.

Caroline Seitz giving presentations and working with wildlife at Hidden Oaks.



  • 11:00 a.m.: Students from Belvedere's 2019 Fifth Grade Chorus perform Pretty Planet under the direction of Christine Freeman.
  • 11:10 a.m.: Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Penny Gross will present a board proclamation to Hidden Oaks. Alex Robbins from the office of Congressman Gerald Connolly will present a copy of the anniversary's entry into the Congressional Record. Comments from FCPA Director Kirk Kincannon, HONC Manager Michael McDonnell, Friends of Hidden Oaks Nature Center president Kevin Holland, Park Authority Board Member Ron Kendall.
  • 11:30 a.m.: Unveiling of the chainsaw art.
  • 11:35 a.m.: Tree plantings with the Fairfax County Tree Commission
  • Noon-1 p.m.: Vienna School of Rock presents a 1969 Woodstock tribute, a family-friendly performance on the Showmobile stage in the Packard Center parking lot
  • 1:45 p.m.: Monarch tagging near the butterfly bench
  • 2:00 p.m.: Fairfax Choral Children’s Choir performance on the Showmobile stage in the Packard Center parking lot
  • 3:00 p.m.: Reptiles Alive. Nature Center Classroom. Live reptile presentations by Caroline Sietz, who started her passion of educating the public about reptiles when she was a 10-year-old volunteer at Hidden Oaks. 


11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Community Corner (Tables near the nature center and pond)

  • Scavenger Hunt along Old Oak and Packard Trails with prizes (Start near the Wing Wall)
  • Draw a birthday greeting in chalk on the sidewalk
  • Introducing Story Maps
  • Whose Tracks are These?
  • LL Bean: Trails, Tracks and Habitat, on the hour.
  • LL Bean Tent for Storytime with nature/outdoor activities on the hour. Recommended for ages 3-6 with an adult.
  • Nature Playce: Turtle races, costumed characters and activities

Trail Between Hidden Oaks and Packard Center

  • Virginia Native Plant Society: How Can Your Garden Grow?
  • Please touch! Touch animal specimens (fox, skunk, snapping turtle)
  • Urban Forestry: How fast does an oak tree grow?
  • Urban Forestry: All About Oaks
  • Whimsical Expressions: Hand and arm painting
  • Complimentary s'mores at the campfire pit
  • Northern Virginia Conservation Trust: Activities for kids
  • Fairfax Master Naturalists: Help plant native wildflowers


Noon-4 p.m.

Program shelter

  • Make an ornament from tree cookies salvaged from the carved tree
  • Native flying squirrels: Creating habitat


  •  Live animals 
  •  Running out of Room: Posters of aerial photos of HONC land use from 1937-present day
  •  Hidden Oak and Annandale Community Park renovation plans 


Download the HONC 50th Anniversary Program

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